Your submission was sent successfully! Close

Thank you for signing up for our newsletter!
In these regular emails you will find the latest updates from Canonical and upcoming events where you can meet our team.Close

  1. Blog
  2. Article

Edoardo Barbieri
on 27 September 2022

IoT project lifecycle: App-centric software development [Part II]

The traditional embedded Linux development model ties applications to the OS. Such a constraint means apps have to target a specific release, which lowers development velocity. Furthermore, broken upgrades in one part of the device may affect refreshes in the rest of the OS.

On the other hand, embedded developers are increasingly looking at open-source software to enable rapid app-centric software deployment and global collaboration. 

Does Ubuntu offer a production-grade platform suited for the modern app-centric world of IoT devices? Let’s find out.

Ubuntu is the OS for most public cloud workloads as well as the emerging categories of smart gateways, self-driving cars and advanced robots.

Software in the age of app stores

Software was scarce and expensive in the early 90s. Today, the nature of software keeps changing. It’s vastly more complex but also more common and it moves faster than ever. Whereas six months used to be a fast cadence for software releases, it’s grossly inadequate compared to today’s app-centric standards.

Developing robotics and intelligent devices entails apt-get or yum to get curated software from a distro. But this is only a minor part of what developers do today in IoT, as they often build the latest version from upstream or GitHub. As the pace and complexity of software have levelled up in the app store era, software moves too fast for distros and is happening at the speed of Git.

The advent of app stores further changed personal computing: we now consume software from many more parties and have strict expectations around trust. For instance, when downloading a game, we don’t want it to read our address book or access our microphone. Similarly, software development in the personal computing world is application-focused, as engineers need not worry about the underlying processors when developing a mobile app.

For too long, we didn’t have a Linux equivalent in the IoT world. Developing an industrial or embedded app the same way you create one for mobile required a leap of imagination.

As standard Ubuntu can curate only a portion of what those innovators need at the speed of a distribution, these questions informed our vision to accelerate app-centric software development by reducing the work required to package and publish software in the IoT world. The challenge we set out to solve is how to support this new wave of software via Ubuntu while preserving integration, trust and maintenance.

The snaps packaging system was born out of the vision of delivering software at the speed of GitHub, with the convenience of apt-get, while preserving a strong security posture. With snaps, developers can deliver software in a cloud-native way to IoT devices running Ubuntu.

Security in the app-centric age

In the traditional Linux, Windows, and Mac OS-type environments, we treat every piece of software the same. When we apt-get install something, any package can write to any file. 

In line with the modern era of app stores, however, your machine should only trust a piece of software for the data you feed. With snaps, each piece of software sits in a box and can only see and write in places inside its confined environment, unless explicitly instructed otherwise. 

Rather than limiting the benefits of containerisation at the app level, we brought snaps to the OS layer. Ubuntu Core is a snap-only flavour of Ubuntu, containerised and shipped using the new packaging format. The system segregates into software blobs using kernel primitives for isolation and confinement. Ubuntu Core containerises the Linux kernel and run-time environments, cleanly decoupling the base system and OS from the installed applications. 

Apps running on top of Ubuntu Core go into boxes and become single files compressed with everything they depend on with the ability to write to strictly-assigned space. Container primitives lock down and isolate the different features, with applications running in a security sandbox by default, secured by kernel primitives like cgroups and AppArmor

An app-centric operating system

As the intelligence of a device is ultimately a function of the software it runs, Ubuntu Core makes every device effectively app-enabled. The device’s primary function is an app, and developers can ship other apps next to that primary function. Ubuntu Core is an app-centric, instead of distribution or archive-centric, operating system. 

According to that vision, Ubuntu Core decouples apps from the OS, acting as an underlying platform running on virtually every hardware on top of which developers may wish to ship apps. Snapping applications further decouples the hardware from the software, enabling software reusability and composability. 

The app-centric nature of Ubuntu Core allows publishers to update applications independently of the OS. Software publishers can decide which updates are signed, certified and delivered to devices. Furthermore, every embedded device running Ubuntu Core has guaranteed platform security and an app store, underpinning the new wave of app-centric software development.

Deploy secure IoT devices at scale with your own app store

Enterprises can set up App Stores representing their specific brand or devices with complete control over their store content, review process and authorisation. Hosted on Canonical’s cloud infrastructure, the App Stores are private application stores tailored to software distribution across fleets of devices. 

Every embedded device running Ubuntu Core has guaranteed platform security and an App Store, underpinning the new wave of connected device business models

These custom enterprise stores enable developers to cherry-pick the optimal combination of applications for their devices, including software published in the global Snap Store and custom software developed internally for a specific use case. Device manufacturers can leverage over 6500+ snaps freely available in the global Snap Store to accelerate their time to market.

Further reading

Why is Linux the OS of choice for IoT devices? Find out with the official guide to Linux for embedded applications

Working on a new IoT project, but unsure which OS to pick? Learn about the trade-offs between Yocto and Ubuntu Core.

Did you hear the news? Real-time Ubuntu 22.04 LTS Ubuntu is now available. Check out the latest webinar on real-time Linux to find out more.

Read our whitepaper on IoT lifecycle management for more insights. 

Join the conversation on IoT Discourse to discuss everything related to IoT and tightly connected, embedded devices. 

Related posts

12 September 2023

이제 인텔 SoC에서 일반적으로 사용 가능한 최적화된 실시간 우분투

IoT Article

Canonical이 TSN 및 인텔 TCC를 지원하는 인텔 코어 프로세서에서 실시간 우분투를 제공 2023년 7월 26일, 런던: Canonical은 오늘 인텔 코어 프로세서에 최적화된 실시간 우분투를 이용할 수 있음을 발표했습니다. 이 솔루션을 통해 기업은 통신회사 워크로드에서 생명을 구하는 의료 장비 및 공장용 자동화 시스템에 이르기까지 광범위한 사용 사례에 인텔 실리콘에 최적화된 리눅스의 성능을 이용할 수 있습니다. Canonical의 ...

26 July 2023

Optimised Real-time Ubuntu is now generally available on Intel SoCs

IoT Article

Canonical delivers Real-time Ubuntu on Intel Core processors with TSN and Intel TCC support London, 26 July 2023: Canonical today announced the availability of Real-time Ubuntu optimised on Intel Core processors.  The solution enables enterprises to harness the power of optimised Linux on Intel silicon for a wide range of use cases, from ...

23 March 2023

이제 실시간 우분투를 일반적으로 사용 가능

IoT Article

실시간 우분투는 현대 기업의 시간 제약이 있는 워크로드에 종단간 보안 및 신뢰성을 제공합니다. 실시간 컴퓨팅 지원을 통해 Canonical은 오픈 소스 소프트웨어 소비를 위한 동급 최고의 경험을 제공하겠다는 약속을 더욱 강화하게 되었습니다. Canonical은 오늘 실시간 Ubuntu 22.04 LTS를 일반에서도 사용 가능하다고 발표했습니다. 실시간 우분투는 지정된 기한 내에 보장하는 응답 시간을 최소화하는 것을 목표로 외부 이벤트에 대한 ...